Serious question marks appear over the survival of the dogged PPP-PML(N) alliance at the moment. Numerous reports in the print suggest that days of this alliance are numbered. It is matter of time only now when the formal announcement of parting of ways is made by the leaders from both the parties. Still there is no dearth of political folks who consider this alliance as most unnatural from the very start and expect its fall sooner rather than later. Patience, it seems, is wearing thin from both sides. It was this murky setting in which the top leaders from both sides met in Islamabad the other day. Interestingly, it was Shahbaz Sharif and not Nawaz Sharif who went to the Presidency to straighten the chinks that have appeared in the alliance of late. Paradoxically, when the meeting between President Zardari and Shahbaz Sharif was taking place, Lahore was bracing for a roaring reception for the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, due to address a lawyers' convention in the city with PML(N) playing a lead role. The meeting between Zardari and Shahbaz seemed to be inconclusive. Both leaders would have exchanged a litany of complaints against each other. Shahbaz Sharif in his public comments said Zardari had assured him that 'they would together sort out the differences'. Nobody knows either what message he brought for Nawaz Sharif after the meeting. One newspaper reported Shahbaz saying to Zardari that he would pass his sentiments to Nawaz. However, not many people think that President Zardari could do much to salvage the alliance from sinking this time after Nawaz Sharif getting no relief from the PPP government so far, started openly supporting anti-PPP lawyers' movement. Even the response of PPP towards the constitutional changes proposed by the PML (N) to replace 17th amendment has been quite lukewarm. Hence Nawaz Sharif after laying low for a while most recently announced that his party would fully support lawyers' movement till it achieve its ultimate end. He also announced his party's participation and support in the long march and sit-in of lawyers in Islamabad, which would be held on March 9. The other day PML (N) made a huge come back in the lawyers' movement following Nawaz Sharif recent announcement. The PML (N) had made elaborate arrangements for the success of the show, even stealing the limelight from other parties engaged in the lawyers movement. The entire route of the CJ reception was decorated with PML (N) banners and portraits of Nawaz Sharif. About 4000 or 5000 PML (N) workers were deployed on the route with eight reception camps established at different points manned by distinguished party leaders. One such camp was manned by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif monitoring and coordinating with his political workers. The rally was conspicuous by the anti-government sentiments. Both lawyers and PML (N) workers were seen chanting Go-Zardari Go and Wazir-e-Azam Nawaz Sharif slogans. The political circles also found the provincial government being pitted against the centre where the PPP is sitting, wondering how the alliance could survive any longer with PPP-bashing the order of the day. In the same vein it is believed that how could one hope for the normalization of relations when the streets in Lahore are echoing with anti-PPP slogans with the entire show being backed by PML(N) government It is also being claimed that the troubled alliance might be wrapped up before the lawyers are out to stage a sit-in in federal capital. There is also a perception in the country that Nawaz Sharif has clung to the populist issues like restoration of Chief Justice to help his party win future elections and form government on its own with a sizable majority. The saner elements however, never expected the two parties to split so early in the day, hoping that better sense would prevail. The people were mesmerized with scenes of bonhomie between the two parties when they announced their alliance after February 18 elections. It was a great gesture on the part of PPP to let PML(N) and its other allies form the governments in their respective provinces when it could have spoiled their show. Despite temptation from the PML(Q), the PPP let PML(N) form the government in the Punjab. These were the most heartening scenes for the public. But the same class is now not very hopeful about this alliance, painting a bleak scenario ahead reminiscent of 1990s when both the major parties were involved in conspiracies to bring down each other governments. E-mail: